Update: Menlo Park council to discuss residential displacement Nov. 9


The Menlo Park City Council will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9, to discuss what it can do about Menlo Park residents being pushed out of their homes due to rising housing costs and evictions, according to Mayor Rich Cline.

The meeting will be held in the Menlo Park council chambers at 701 Laurel St. in the Civic Center.

At the meeting, council members are expected to be presented with draft ordinances on two measures requested by Councilwoman Kirsten Keith: requiring landlords to give renters the chance to sign 12-month leases, and allowing renters to negotiate with landlords using a third-party mediator, in a process called mandatory nonbinding arbitration.

According to Mr. Cline, the meeting was moved up from the previously discussed January date to "(take) action on some items that we can do quickly - to help now," he said.

The two measures on the docket are considered by council members to be less controversial than other anti-displacement measures and could be implemented faster.

Meanwhile, Mr. Cline said, the city will collect data via a study Facebook will fund, as part of its agreement with the city when its expansion was approved Nov. 1. Facebook agreed to pay $350,000 to hire a consultant to conduct a "Housing Inventory and Local Supply Study" to look at nearby "conditions, occupancy and resident profiles" to help develop an "informed regional housing strategy," according to a staff report. Following the study, Facebook will pay $1.5 million toward setting up a "Housing Innovation Fund" and $1 million for a "Housing Preservation Fund."

The council may discuss other policies to address displacement, and what they could cost to implement, said Jim Cogan, the city's housing and economic development manager.

The meeting may include an update from SamTrans officials on the Dumbarton corridor study, said City Manager Alex McIntyre.


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4 people like this
Posted by 25 Year MP Renter
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 2, 2016 at 6:59 pm

Why didn't they consider "the displacement issues of renters" before they approve Facebook expansions and before the elections? Kicking-the-can-down-the-road again?

4 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 7:03 pm

Maybe this should have been done before approving the Facebook takeover of Menlo Park.

1 person likes this
Posted by Bob McGrew
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Nov 3, 2016 at 10:34 am

These are very reasonable measures that will help people who are being displaced now. I know that these would have helped me when I was a renter.

However, the best way to fight displacement is to make sure that there are places for people to move to. That's why the new General Plan Update matters. Facebook and other property owners on the Bayfront in Belle Haven have asked the city to let them build thousands of units of new housing. With the requirement that these new units include 15% below-market rate housing, Menlo Park has the ability to provide a real option to over a thousand people who are being displaced. There's just no other option to get that amount of affordable housing otherwise.

Rents are going up everywhere in the Bay Area, Menlo Park no more than Palo Alto or San Francisco. Pushing Facebook's new offices into EPA would have sacrificed the benefits Facebook is offering to the current residents of Belle Haven without lowering rents. But building more housing and more affordable housing will lower rents and fight displacement.

I'm proud that Menlo Park has come up with a plan that includes adding retail, creating jobs, and building housing, with strong traffic-reduction measures to tie it together. It is a good plan, and it's going to do a lot for our city, especially in terms of fighting displacement.

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